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Is Sex with a Condom Really All That Bad for Guys?

March 11th, 2015

photo via Flickr

Advice from three of our guy friends. This week they answer the following: Okay, so how different is intercourse with a condom? What does it feel like? Do different kinds of condoms make a difference?

Straight Married Guy (Fred): It’s different.  It’s not as good.  Think pancakes without the syrup.  Scratching an itch with the palm of your hand.  A foot massage while wearing slippers.  “American Idol” without Adam Lambert.  It’s still okay, just not great.  It can be frustrating for guys because everything else about the experience is vivid but where it really counts it is dull.  And we know what it feels like au natural.  Different types of condoms definitely make a difference.  Anything that says super-thin, ultra-thin, sensitive, etc., are usually waaaay better than your regular, cheap, vending-machine rubbers.  Sometimes you have to use them.  If you’re dating, it’s obviously a must.  Ladies, if you’re buying, do him the favor of getting the thin, high quality ones.  And remember, the more excited he is, the less he’ll be distracted by the lack of feeling, so getting a little naughtier than usual can really help.

Gay Engaged Guy (Joel Derfner, author of Swish): I’m an exclusive bottom, so I had to e-mail hundreds of — er, a few past sexual partners to ask them.  The general consensus was that it’s different but not by a whole lot.  With a condom you have less sensation (“33% less,” said one when I asked) but you last longer (I didn’t ask, but the obsessive-compulsive in me has decided that it’s 33% longer), so it’s kind of a trade-off.  Thin condoms are better, apparently, and polyurethane condoms are by far the best (though they’re more expensive).  All the men surveyed said that condoms felt better when they were having sex with me than with other partners.

Read the rest of this entry »

A Better Vocabulary for Bisexuality

March 11th, 2015

Reader David wrote the following in response to our post, “Confession: The Problem with Bisexuality”:

I prefer ‘birelational’ over ‘bisexual’. It is not just about sex. ‘Biromantic’ fits as well. Of course there is always the ‘pansexual’ or ‘panrelational’ or ‘panromantic’ terminology. I don’t think the whole homosexual, heterosexual or bisexual thing is much good for identity. Too confining and objectifying and reductive for people to discuss in such ways.


Your Call: How Do You Know If It’s Settling or Being Smart

March 10th, 2015

We get a lot of advice questions coming in at EMandLO.com, but sadly, we just can’t answer them all. Which is why, once a week, we turn to you to decide how best to advise a reader. Leave your suggestions in the comments section below. 

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Dear Em & Lo,

How do you know the difference between being discerning and being too picky? I hate the Princeton Mom but I’ve read smarter articles about not waiting too long to settle down, especially if you want a family. To go with the person who’s just good enough, rather than perfect (since no one’s perfect). But my last few relationships haven’t been with people I can see making it long term with. They had many pros but a few cons that just felt like deal breakers to me. I can compromise, but I don’t want to betray myself or my values. Still, I’m in my late thirties and am starting to get worried. At what point do you just settle and hope for the best?

Fence Sitter

What should F.S. do? Leave your advice in the comments section below.



Making a Bad Show Worse: Turning “The Bachelorette” Into “Highlander”

March 10th, 2015

photos via ABC.com

Well, we’ve made it through another season of The Bachelor. The editors cut the footage with a heavy hand to make us think Chris would ultimately think with his dick and pick the distant, unamused, hot virgin, Becca, instead of the much more sensible choice, Iowa-loving, family-embracing, 100% gung-ho, baby-talking (in ALL senses of the word) Whitney.  It’s one of the great ironies of The Bachelor/ette, that the person who chooses to get engaged at the end of show is at the height of their celebrity, with their dating options exponentially increased to stratospheric proportions — not exactly the ideal time to settle down. But no L.A. model is going to want to become a farmer in Bumblefuck, so perhaps Chris Soules will forgo all the effortless sex his D-list status could offer and stick with Whit. Still, the odds are against it, Arlington or not. We shall see.

Much more of a surprise than Chris’s pick and full-on engagement was the announcement of the next Bachelorettes — yes, plural! With all the talk last week of Kaitlyn unofficially confirmed as the next Bachelorette (much to the chagrin of loyal Britt-ophiles everywhere), we were just waiting for Kaitlyn to be introduced by Chris Harrison, dutifully make her appearance and take her place next in line. So when Britt was invited to crash the party, cheers and moans erupted simultaneously all across Bachelor Nation (did we just use that term unironically?).

Apparently, Britt and Kaitlyn will be joint Bachelorettes. But like Highlander, there can only be one. The two will enter the mansion, but — according to some show rules seemingly yet-to-be-determined by the producers — only one will be left to hand out the final rose. Surely, it will boil down to who is the better liked (or lusted after) by the guys in the house.

It’s a great new gimmick to get people talking about the show — we’re doing it right now! — but here’s why we don’t like it:

The show started off thirteen years ago on seriously shaky sexist ground by having a large group of women essentially fighting over one man. It encouraged and emphasized tired stereotypes about the cattiness and desperation of women. It was only after they turned the tables one year/two seasons later and introduced The Bachelorette that the franchise became much more palatable, revolutionary even. By showing that whole groups of men were just as interested in love and marriage, that they could talk publicly about their feelings too, and that a woman could seriously enjoy kissing (and even having sex with) multiple people just as a man could, the show could actually be accused of being practically feminist!

It wasn’t ideal. For the first several years, The Bachelor seasons outnumbered Bachelorette seasons two to one, giving the impression, perhaps, that producers couldn’t find enough men crazy or stupid enough to sign up for the same humiliation that countless women seemed ready for. And in 2006 and 2007, there were no Bachelorettes made at all, while The Bachelor marched steadily on. Not until 2008 did the two shows achieve equal footing, with one show of each made every year through to the present. The Bachelorette still traded in the old fashioned notion that men have to do the proposing, even though she was basically making the call, but at least for every man who got his pick of the litter on The Bachelor, one woman could do the same on The Bachelorette.

Which is why this gimmick of two dueling Bachelorettes is so disappointing. It feels like a step back for the show. Before, one woman rejected from The Bachelor could have redemption, total attention and complete control on The Bachelorette. The idea of having to fight for or over a man was refreshingly removed from the process. But now, by reinserting this element of competition back into the process, the once elevated status of the Bachelorette has been undercut, marred. To co-opt language usually reserved for elected office, it is beneath the dignity of the position of the Bachelorette.

You could see the disappointment and humiliation in Kaitlyn as she stood there awkwardly next to Britt on “After the Final Rose,” looking down at the ground, biting her lip, forcing those smiles. Britt, having thought she was a no-go as the fifth-to-last out on Soules’s season, seemed just happy to have more air time — hey, two Bachelorettes are better than none for me, the adorbs L.A. “waitress”! But clever Kaitlin, who must have been as certain as we were that she was going to be crowned queen for a season, couldn’t hide her mystification at this lost opportunity, this reneged title, this chance to be rejected all over again. As she admitted last night with this understatement, “It’s not ideal.”

One could argue this turn of television events is no biggie since the show’s done this before, with men. In season 6, the first-night cocktail party featured two potential Bachelors — Byron Velvick and Jay Overbye — and had the ladies decide who was going to stay for the rest of the season (they chose Byron, and he ultimately chose Mary, and six years later they chose to go their separate ways). They put two guys through this ringer, it’s only fair the gals get their turn, right? But it was lame back then, and it’s lame now. And this case feels a bit more cruel, since the two people involved are now personalities that American viewers feel they have gotten to know — whoever loses, their second rejection will be that much more humiliating and, the producers are betting, that much more entertaining. Gross. (But will we still watch? Does Chris Harrison have an unnatural compulsion to explain simple math?)

Let’s just hope that the gimmick doesn’t last, that it doesn’t deliver in the entertainment department, that Bachelor Nation rejects it as an exploitative step too far, and/or that the producers call it quits once they’ve tried it with both men and women. If the gimmick has staying power, then the only way we could feel any better about it is if it’s used across the Bachelor/ette board. It would still be undignified, campy and unrealistic objectification, but at least it would be equal-opportunity objectification.

Read up on last week’s love lessons learned from “The Bachelor.” 



Thanks for Listening, Time Warner Cable

March 9th, 2015

You may recall that in a post last week, we called out Time Warner Cable for their ridiculously out-of-touch animated WiFi-Denti-fier tool (pictured above). The tool basically assumed that you were straight, with no options for letting users select otherwise. Because apparently, gay and transgendered people never have problems with movies endlessly buffering, which is one of the many annoying device overload problems this tool was meant to help you solve.

Well, we are thrilled to report that within days of this post going up, we got the nicest letter back from Time Warner Cable. Here it is in full:

Dear Em & Lo:

I’m writing in response to your “Time Warner Cable Is for Straight People Only, Please” post yesterday.

The Time Warner Cable Wi-Fi Dentifier Tool was designed as an interactive way to get users engaged and in no way intended to offend anyone. We’ve taken a closer look at the tool and understand how the characters and family composition used are not a true reflection of the diverse communities we serve so we have temporarily pulled it down and are revising the tool. We have a strong record in promoting, supporting and serving the LGBT community and are proud of consistently receiving the top score of 100% in the Human Rights Campaign (HRC) Corporate Equality Index. We appreciate your feedback and are always looking for ways to do better as a company.


Evelyn Galarza
Time Warner Cable

So, there you go! We’re still a little bit non-plussed about how this tool made it by so many levels of approval before going live, but we guess that’s one of the problems with not having enough women in the corporate workplace.

And now a mea culpa of our own. Here’s a letter we received from a reader in response to our original post on Time Warner Cable. It turns out that not only did the tool force you to select a “straight” option, it also showed only white avatars — something we unfortunately failed to notice.

 Hey guys! I read your blog about time warner excluding gays from their animation set-up, ugh! Like they can’t get proper recognition like everyone else does! It’s really great to see people speak up on behalf of gays. But you cant choose to be black, either. But they’re only concerned about getting shot and killed by cops, recieving longer prison sentences (20% on average) than whites for the same crime, and desire equal oppurtunity in legal matters, employment etc. But who cares you can’t choose another race besides white, this is a gay issue and you stand up for them all!…. by getting sad u can’t choose a gay partner in an animated avatar. Good day :)

Ouch! But, hey, it’s good to have our readers keeping us on our toes, lest the speedy response from Time Warner Cable go to our head. Here’s how we responded to that reader — and if you visit the original post, you’ll see we made changes there, too:

Point taken. We guess our only excuse is that as sex and relationship writers exclusively, we always focus on issues of sexuality, orientation and gender issues. But we should have mentioned the lack of choice when it comes to race too — not sure if we can update on HuffPo, but we’ll update on our site.

And when we wrote back to Time Warner Cable, we mentioned the reader’s point, too:

Dear Evelyn,

Wow, thank you for taking our concerns so seriously. We appreciate the effort that went into building that tool and would love to see it reflect more diversity. While our focus as sex and relationship writers is on issues of gender and sexuality, we should also mention, while we have your ear, that the avatars being all white is also problematic. Again, thanks for your consideration. And congrats on the 100% rating by the HRC!

Em & Lo

All of which is to say: Speak up when you see something that isn’t right! Even when you’re the little guy (or gal) and it’s the big guy (or gal) doing the thing that isn’t right. Because, sometimes, the big guy just needs a little nudge to do the right thing. Also: We’re not perfect, and we want you to tell us when we’re not! But feel free to tell us when we’re being awesome, too.


St. Paddy’s Horoscopes for the Week of March 9th, 2015

March 9th, 2015

photo via Flickr

Each week, we at EMandLO.com predict the course of your love life for the week with our own version of irreverent horoscopes — ignore our advice at your own peril. (Hyperbole intended for dramatic effect.)

aries (Mar. 21st-Apr. 20th)
The stars say that you’ll be “romantically challenged” this week. Jeez, when did they get so politically correct? What they mean to say is that you’ll be a dating dumbass all week, so just hang with your good buddies, drink like an Irish fish and avoid any and all romantic encounters for at least seven days. And that’s an order from the love doctors.

taurus (Apr. 21st-May 20th)
Sometimes we think the stars would rather be hosting a daytime talk show or writing self-help books with titles like “Who Moved My Constellation?” They’re always giving us messages in such platitudes! This week they’d like you to know that you have an unhealthy fear of intimacy and commitment. We’d like to add that you have a very heathly fear of green-food-dyed beer.

gemini (May 21st-June 21st)
Nobody puts Baby in a corner. This week, a particularly annoying “nobody” will be pursuing you all the way into that corner. If you don’t want to get backed into a corner — i. e. if you want to avoid a sloppy drunken make-out sesh in a corner booth with annoying Traci/Tony from Accounts — then stay home and rent old Patrick Swayze flicks instead. Or if you need company, invite some close friends over (but no friends with benefits) for a night of whiskey and Irish ballad singing.

cancer (June 22nd-July 22nd)
You will be a tad fickle this week. Boredom will set in if the people around you are not exciting and full of adventure. Focus on group endeavors so that you don’t have to be partnered off with anyone in particular. Like marching with the gay and lesbian group in your local St. Patrick’s Day parade, whether they’re “allowed” to or not. Political activism is the next best thing to nookie.

leo (July 23rd-Aug. 22nd)
Doors are opening for you all over the place this week. Don’t blow it by having nothing planned — that’s the dating equivalent of leaving a fake dog turd on the doorstep, ringing the doorbell, and making a run for it. Here’s your heads-up: The question you ask will most likely receive an affirmative answer. So make sure you’re prepared with your follow-up to their big fat “yes. ” As in: “Wanna go out sometime?” “Yes!” “Cool, I’ve got front-row seats to Riverdance, wanna come?”

virgo (Aug. 23rd-Sept. 22nd)
Although you will attract a lot of attention this week (and not just because that green face paint you wore for St. Patrick’s Day didn’t turn out to be quite as “water-soluble” as the instructions claimed), you may not be all that excited about the source(s) of that attention. Well, maybe you should be just a little less superficial. Maybe you don’t look so hot either, what with that subtle green tinge to your skin. But your mother still loves you, and it certainly doesn’t affect your skills in the sack. So don’t judge a book by its cover, and don’t judge a hottie by their hairstyle, either. (Wait till you’ve been dating for a month and then work on their mullet.)

libra (Sept. 23rd-Oct. 23rd)
Be nice to your neighbors. And by “neighbors,” we don’t mean humankind; seriously, be nice to the people who literally live nextdoor to you. Don’t come on too strong with your love interest — though we should say that as long as you’re not a stalker, there really is no such thing as “too strong” . . . it’s kind of like coffee that way. Do some volunteer work, or at least be charitable to the jerks you work with. Get some new hair product; the stuff you’re using isn’t doing your mane justice. Add fiber to your diet. Resist all impulses toward anything green this week: green eyeshadow, green-dyed food, the green-eyed monster.

scorpio (Oct. 24th-Nov. 22nd)
You’ve got more going on this week than a James Joyce book. But rather than seeming like a thick, daunting tome that’s torture to get through, you read more like a nice, simple Yeats poem — lyrical but not too wordy, deep but not too hard to understand. People will want to be versed in your ways.

sagittarius (Nov. 23rd-Dec. 21st)
You will find it easy to open up emotionally this week. You’ll talk about your feelings and what you are looking for in a relationship. The object of your affections is likely to be enamored with your honesty and openness. We know: We can’t believe it either. If you had asked us last week, we would have said you had a better chance of running into a leprechaun with a pot of gold than you did of exhibiting so much emotional maturity.

capricorn (Dec. 22nd-Jan. 20th)
You’re smooth and inviting, with a good head on your shoulders, just like a nice pint of Guinness. Quench the thirst of any partner you choose this week — because with your charm, it’ll be like everyone’s wearing beer goggles when they look at you, whether they’re sober or sloshed.

aquarius (Jan. 21st-Feb. 18th)
Your week will be practically perfect when it comes to love, like you’ve got a four-leaf clover stuck up your butt. You like someone and they like you back and the two of you will be all cuddly, making goo-goo eyes at each other. There may even be some baby talk involved. Now go away before you make us puke.

pisces (Feb. 19th-Mar. 20th)
Be yourself. Go on: Wear that beret, do that little Irish jig (who cares if it’s Bon Jovi on the jukebox), admit that you never watched “The Wire” or “Breaking Bad” and don’t intend to. We guarantee that putting yourself on the line will make someone else feel better about themselves, even if they’re too shy to tell you just yet. And isn’t it enough just to know that? Oh, it’s not? Well this public display of embarrassing proclivities is also the foundation of something beautiful to come. And that’s all that we’re at liberty to say right now.


Love Has No Labels

March 6th, 2015

“Before anything else, we are all human. It’s time to embrace diversity. Let’s put aside labels in the name of love.”

No, it’s not skeleton porn. #LoveHasNoLabels is the new diversity and inclusion campaign by the Ad Council.  There’s a dedicated website with a quiz, stories, tips, resources and the obligatory adorable video that will melt the iciest hearts (even Lo’s). The stunt, filmed on the 3rd Street Promenade in L.A. (a place guaranteed to have offered a warm reception), features a giant X-ray machine, behind which couples engage with one another as humans — we, the audience, can’t tell their race, gender, sexual orientation, religion, age, or (dis)abilities. All we see is the love.

Here’s the Ad Council’s description of the campaign and its point:

Most Americans agree that people should be treated respectfully and fairly. Yet many people in the United States still report feeling discriminated against. For example, one in five LGBT people report feeling there is little or no acceptance of their community. Six in ten Latinos report that discrimination is a major problem and a majority of African Americans report that they are not satisfied with the way they are treated in society.

The reason might be that we’re actually discriminating unintentionally–some call this implicit bias. Implicit bias influences how we treat people and how we interact with each other. More broadly, it can perpetuate disparities by impacting someone’s ability to find a job, secure a loan, rent an apartment or get a fair trial. To end bias, we need to become aware of it. And then we need to do everything within our power to stop it in ourselves, others, and institutions.

The Diversity & Inclusion campaign encourages everyone to reconsider the biases that we don’t even know we have. Visit lovehasnolabels.com to find ways to challenge bias in themselves and others.


3 Easy(ish) Steps to Sharing a Fantasy with a Partner

March 6th, 2015

Sharing a fantasy with a partner can be a cheap and easy way to foster intimacy, build trust, and kink things up. But it takes a lot of courage to do. What if you think yours is too mundane to put into words (remember Meg Ryan’s faceless stranger fantasy in When Harry Met Sally?). Or what if you’re afraid your partner will be jealous of or even deeply disturbed by what you share? Or, worst case scenario: What if they just laugh? Try these tricks to make things a little smoother:

  1. Set the Stage for Safe Sharing: Ask your partner to tell you one of their biggest/darkest/strangest masturbation fantasies, explaining that it’d be such a turn-on to get in their head. Promise them you won’t judge or giggle (and keep that promise). If they’re reluctant, set a brave example by offering up one of your own (you can insist that they honor the no-giggling rule, too).
  2. Just Start Talking: The next time you’re having regular old comfort sex, start talking about something you’d like to try now, something you’d like to try eventually, or something you’d never ever want to try but are simply turned on by in your mind. Then suggest that your partner do the same (no pressure though!). Or just recount a dirty story you recently read. The fact that you’re having sex at the time will mean any awkward pauses can be filled with moans. And when you’re both distracted by physical pleasure, there’s less pressure for your fantasy to make narrative sense. Just a sentence or two here and there will get the point across.
  3. Know When to Hold Them: There’s no rule that says you have to share every single dirty thought that crosses your mind. Maybe that fantasy you enjoy during your self-love sessions is hot precisely because nobody knows about it. Or if your partner’s the jealous type, then they don’t need to know that you occasionally imagine their best friend naked.



What Does a Male Orgasm Feels Like? 4 Guys Explain.

March 5th, 2015

by Melissa Noble for YourTango | photo via Flickr

Ever wondered what a male orgasm is like? Four men tell us ladies what it feels like to get off.

So what does a male orgasm feel like? Do orgasms differ drastically between the sexes? On our search to find out what exactly goes on in a man’s head and body during sex, we first examined what we already know:

For starters, the male orgasm is significantly shorter, more intense and can, usually, only be experienced once during a single sex session. Women on the flipside, if properly stimulated, can pop out a series of orgasms with little recovery period. Secondly, the male orgasm unleashes a rush of drowsy hormones — norepinephrine, serotonin, oxytocin, vasopressin, nictric oxide and the hormone prolactin — making it next to impossible for men not to feel sleepy after sex.

But what exactly does a male orgasm feel like, we wonder. To find out, we asked a few bonafide, penis-owning individuals if they could put it into words that coveted five seconds of orgasmic bliss. What we found? The question was downright hard. Asking men to explain the male orgasm was akin to having them describe the color orange. Regardless, we managed to cull a few truths.

1. The brain shuts off, and then a moment of clarity arises.

Andrew, a 30-year-old computer programmer said that during sex he’s in a trance-like, robotic state. While he’s physically there, his mind wanders into deep horny forests, that if asked about, are just as ephemeral and hard to explain as the orgasm itself, but after he comes? “Everything makes sense for a split second. Like I’m seeing things clearly for the first time. That to me is the most powerful thing about orgasm, the moments afterward.”

2. It’s feeling of passing “energy.”

Adam a 27-year-old set designer says his orgasms are different depending on whether he’s masturbating or having sex. Masturbation for him results in an orgasm out of necessity, but when he comes inside a woman he explains it as almost spiritual. “I feel like I’m passing the core of my soul to someone,” he said. When we thought he couldn’t be serious, he concluded, “not to be cheesy, but its like sharing your energy with somebody. Being so close to someone during a very vulnerable period.”

3. The intensity varies depending on how long he holds out.

Paul, a 23-year-old actor says his most intense and earth shattering climaxes happen after he’s reached the edge and held out a few times. “There’s a differences between just letting loose when you first feel the urge and challenging yourself to hold out. I’m a million times more exhausted after I’ve stopped and kept going.”

4. Women’s are indeed longer — and possibly better.

Wes, a 26-year-old advertising copywriter, reiterates the already known fact that the male orgasm is inherently shorter than a female’s. It also doesn’t seem to be quite as euphoric. “My girlfriend seems to experience her orgasm in lingering waves. Ours isn’t like that. We have a very intense 3-5 second burst, if that, and then our entire body goes numb. It feels good, but I get the feeling hers are better.”

This article originally appeared on YourTango.

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